Campus News

Reinhart named first Steer Professor in Goethe Studies

Max Reinhart, a faculty member in the department of Germanic and Slavic languages, has been named the first A.G. Steer Professor in Goethe Studies, pending final approval by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents.

The new professorship was established through a gift from the estate of the late Steer, who came to UGA in 1967 to head the newly-formed department of Germanic and Slavic languages.

“To my knowledge there aren’t more than a handful of German departments in the country with a Goethe chair,” said Reinhart, who has been a faculty member in UGA’s Franklin College of Arts and Sciences since 1988 and is a former head of the department. “When I came to UGA, Al [Steer] had already retired, but I got acquainted with him on his occasional visits to the department, always with his beloved German shepherd in tow. We’d go out for lunch, and he’d reminisce about the Nuremberg Trials, where he had been one of the lead translators. He was a character, bigger than life.”

Reinhart’s major area of research is early modern Germany (ca. 1400–1700), and he is author or editor of eight books. Most recently, he edited volume four of Early Modern German Literature, of the 10-volume series Camden House History of German Literature. He has secondary interests in music history, especially the German lied (song) of the 19th century and in Early Christianity and Late Empire.

With the linguist Jared S. Klein, he is translator and editor of Schalom Ben-Chorin’s classic study Brother Jesus: The Nazarene through Jewish Eyes, published by the University of Georgia Press. He is also the author of numerous articles that have appeared in international journals.

“I am delighted that Reinhart will fill this important new professorship in the Franklin College,” said Dean Garnett S. Stokes.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) was a German poet, playwright, novelist and natural philosopher and is generally considered one of the greatest figures in Western literature. He became famous early in life with his book The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774), but he is best-known for his poetic drama in two parts, Faust. Goethe’s wide-ranging interests also led him to important discoveries in understanding plant and animal life, and he even proposed an unorthodox theory of the character of light and color.

Steer received his master’s from Duke University in 1938 and his doctoral degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1954. He had a distinguished naval career during World War II, and in 1945 he was appointed chief of the interpreters and translators of the Nuremberg trials in Germany. His contributions to military history and his role at Nuremberg have been documented in many books and articles.

Steer, who died in 2003, transformed a two-person unit into a department of 14 professors and many teaching assistants before retiring in 1983. He served as the board of regents’ first studies-abroad director in 1970.